Thank you to everyone who asked a question for this month’s mailbag. Selected questions are below.
When will Ted Leonsis make the financial commitment necessary for the Wizards to seriously compete for an NBA Championship? For example, when was the last time the Wizards overly exceeded the salary cap to pay a significantly large luxury tax? — Dennis Dillard, email
Albert Lee: The Wizards are making the financial commitment necessary to compete for an NBA championship. They have only exceeded the salary cap once in 2017-18, but since then, they have remained below the cap, which is the right thing to do. Washington isn’t competing for a championship this year and probably not even next as they develop for the future.
Making financial commitments to win isn’t just about paying salaries. It’s also about paying for the practice facility lease upfront in Congress Heights. It’s about creating programs around well-rounded athletes — something that Monumental Basketball is about. I’m not sure what more Leonsis can do financially to say that he is a “committed” NBA team owner, not just for the WNBA and NHL.
Are the Wizards making the right call to have John Wall sit out this season? — jahidiwhite, Comments
Alan Jenkins: Yes, the Wizards are making the right call to sit Wall out the entire season. When it comes to his health, all we have to go by now is what’s posted to Instagram and Twitter. We have no idea if he’s 100% ready for full game activity.
An Achilles tear is not something to mess around with, especially for a guy who turns 30 this year. There’s no need to rush him back for a push at the 8-seed so yes, they are making the right call on him.
How is Rui Hachimura performing compared to expectations? — kurli_kid (Comments)
Albert: With the exception of his midseason groin injury, I think Hachimura is meeting expectations. He’s a solid scorer (13.9 points per game) and is starting. However, Hachimura will have to improve his three-point shot (23.6 percent) and should be a bit more prolific as a rebounder in future seasons. But overall, he’s done a good job as a rookie.
What are the chances that Bradley Beal and/or John Wall get traded sometime in the next three years? They are overpaid, and Tommy Sheppard needs to find a way to let them go somewhere else. (Email)
Yanir Rubinstein: For now, it’s difficult to say. Ask me this question again towards the trade deadline next year.
For now, determining whether to trade Wall or Beal depends on how the Wizards look like in February 2021. Are they competing for a Top 4 seed in the East or not? Is their defensive rating in the top 10 in the league? Is their 2020 draft pick one of the best rookies? The answers to these questions will determine whether trading them is a priority.
Which position appears to be the greatest team need in the offseason that really is within the realm of possibility to fill? — drknowitall, Comments
Albert: The Wizards’ biggest need is rebounding since they rank last in the NBA in overall rebounding percentage. Washington should be able to find a post who can fill the rebounding void without “overpaying” Mahinmi levels again.
So, Wall has been participating in some 5v5 stuff or at least he was 25 days ago according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Does Wall come back this season if the Wiz find themselves in contention for the 8th spot? What is his role when he returns? — ButchMcRae, Comments
Albert: Like Alan answered in an earlier question, the Wizards are making the right decision to (most likely) not play Wall this season. If the Wizards can make the eighth seed in April without him, that would probably be a combination of the Wizards’ resilience (and also the Eastern Conference’s lack of strength beyond its top teams).
Wall will almost have to start once he returns. Hopefully he relies a bit less on driving to the hoop and adds a more reliable three-point shot. Those things will help Wall lengthen his career as he heads into his 30s.